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Pal Expo: The biggest Palestine event in Europe

From food to fashion and art, there is something for everyone at the 6-7 July exhibition in London
The first exhibition in 2017 had more than 10,000 attendees (FOA)
By in
London

The biggest Palestine heritage event in Europe is coming to London on the first weekend of July, to celebrate and showcase Palestinian art, food and culture, as well as open up discussions on important topics. 

Palestine Expo, organised by the UK-based non-profit Friends of Al-Aqsa, is designed to give participants an insight into the culture of Palestine through various activities, immersive experiences and talks, while also raising awareness on the issues Palestinians face.

The event was first held in 2017, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London, with speakers such as John Pilger, Ilan Pappe and Ben White attending.  According to the organisers, around 10,000 people attended the event over the two days. 

This year, organisers promise the event will be bigger and better. It will be held in west London's Olympia exhibition centre, opening its doors to thousands of people. 

Here's what you need to know about the event: 

What's on?

From food to fashion and art, there is something for everyone at the event. 

The event's main aim is to allow attendees to learn about Palestinian culture and understand how the Israeli occupation impacts the lives of millions of people, through various interactive installations, talks and shows.

Music, dance and food are also key parts of the exhibition, demonstrating authentic Palestinian culture and creating awareness around it. 

palestine expo

For those interested in learning more about the occupation, a map showing 3-D settlements reveals how the increase of illegal Israeli settlement building has affected people over time.

There are also various artefacts designed to inform people on the significance of Palestinians' right of return to the homes they were expelled from during Israel's creation in 1948.

Palestinian culture and heritage

The event takes you on a tour of traditional Palestinian culture and heritage, from witnessing the conventions of a Palestinian wedding to taking the steps and feeling the energetic moves of the traditional dabke dance. 

Artists will teach you how to play instruments, as well as give you an understanding as to how important olive trees are to the livelihood of many Palestinians. 

palestine expo

Coffee lovers can also learn how to make traditional Bedouin coffee and get a taste of sweet dates, picked from Palestinian palm trees. 

The expo will have a plethora of exhibits, such as tribal jewellery, antique instruments, rugs and vases, to demonstrate the vibrant and extensive culture of Palestine.

Conference: Who's speaking?

A key part of the programme is the conference, which will provide a platform to discuss issues around the Israel-Palestine conflict and the current political climate.

Some of the topics being discussed include the controversial nation-state law, human rights abuses, US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century," and mental health and trauma under occupation. 

The two-day exhibition will host a number of well-known politicians, journalists, activists, academics and artists. 

Speakers include:

Majad Masharawi: Masharawi is the CEO of GreenCake, a Gaza-based startup that manufactures bricks from recycled local materials. 

Ilan Pappe: Pappe is a professor at the University of Exeter. He writes on the history of Israel, the modern Middle East, multiculturalism and critical discourse analysis. 

David Hearst: Middle East Eye's editor-in-chief will be at the conference discussing the "deal of the century".

Benjamin Ladraa: Ladaraa took social media by storm when he documented his solo 4,800-km trek from Gothenburg, Sweden to Jerusalem.

Andy Slaughter MP: Slaughter has been a Labour MP since 2005 and is the secretary of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group. 

Gideon Levy: Levy is a renowned Israeli journalist and author with a focus on human rights in the occupied territories. 

Salma Karmi Ayyoub: A criminal barrister and external consultant for the Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq.

Wadah Khanfar: Previously serving as the director-general of Al Jazeera Media Network, Khanfar is now the president of Al Sharq Forum think-tank.

Tez Ilyas: Ilyas is a comedian and rising star, having already performed on Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, Man Like Mobeen and The Last Leg

Immersive experience

The event fuses traditional art forms with technology, including virtual reality, to give attendees an insight into what life is like in Palestine.

A mock Israeli separation wall will be installed, as well as a checkpoint, allowing people to gain a deeper understanding of what it feels like to face regular questioning and the difficulty of moving around.

Visitors can try "virtual graffiti" and write a message on the wall, or head to Jerusalem and walk through al-Aqsa Mosque. 

Attendees can also take a look inside the back of a lorry to see what everyday items are banned from entering the Gaza Strip because of the siege imposed by Israel. 

children - pal expo

Children are catered for with an entire "kids village," where they can participate in fun and engaging activities and learn about Palestinian history and culture. Some of the activities include mosaic art, badge making, theatre, face painting and a photo booth. 

Food court: 

kunafa pal expo

A range of authentic foods will be available at the exhibition, giving you a taste of original Palestinian flavours. Stalls across the exhibition will be serving cult favourites such as kunafa, falafel and hot shawarma wraps. 

Take something home:

There will be a variety of stalls selling everything from clothes to prints and jewellery.  

In the shopping quarter you can buy dates, olive oil sourced from Palestine, beauty products, merchandise and Palestinian embroidery in various designs.

The event is taking place at Olympia National in London on Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July from 9am to 6pm. You can find out more about the exhibition here.